Aboriginal children are disproportionately represented in the care system. They comprise about one third of children in care, and the trend points to further increases. As well as the trauma and dislocation felt by all children coming into care, they face the extra risk of removal from, or loss of access to, their culture, language and community.
Commissioner Nyland’s October 2016 report recommended widespread changes to how child protection services related to Aboriginal children and communities and the Government’s response in December 2016 accepted most of those recommendations.
The Government undertook to:
- Develop an Aboriginal recruitment and retention strategy in the Department for Child Protection (DCP) as part of the workforce strategy (R 30) to increase the numbers of and support for Aboriginal staff (R 187 and 188) and non-Aboriginal staff working with Aboriginal children (R 222).
- Place Aboriginal staff in the Child Abuse Report Line call centre to assist with the assessment of Aboriginal families at the point of notification (R 34).
- Make reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system a priority in the work of the planned Early Intervention Research Directorate (R 50).
- Incorporate the particular needs of Aboriginal children in kinship care when developing the new leaving care model (R 163).
- Review the selection, training and supervision of kinship carers and placements. (Aboriginal children are highly represented in kinship care and we discussed this reform in detail in our post on home based care from January this year).
- Ensure that a recognised Aboriginal agency is consulted on all placement decisions involving Aboriginal children (R 189).
- Set up a a dedicated scoping unit within the DCP to research family connections and prepare genograms (R 190).
- Provide all practitioners with training, support and clinical supervision to give them the knowledge, skills and techniques to work effectively with Aboriginal children and families (R191).
- Identify evidence-based service models for early intervention that meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families (R 192).
- Commission not-for-profit agencies to develop service models that can respond to higher-risk Aboriginal families with multiple, complex needs (R 194).
- Develop assessment tools to be used in the new child and family assessment and referral networks that specifically consider the needs of Aboriginal children and families and consult with the local Aboriginal community and service providers (R 196).
- Ensure that at least one Principal Aboriginal Consultant in the DCP has experience and expertise in remote Aboriginal communities (R 202).
- Implement the Education Dashboard to provide access to information about schools and school students that can be viewed and accessed by staff both in DECD and the DCP (R 210).
- Identify evidence-based service models for early intervention that meet the needs of Aboriginal children and families and develop a best practice evaluation framework for existing early intervention and prevention programs R212).
- Create an early intervention service for families in remote communities who could benefit from support to prevent escalation of issues (R 212).
- Upgrade facilities at Mimili and Yalata to provide for playgroups, preschools and other services that visit those communities (R 213).
- Develop and deliver training programs and tools for staff and carers to promote culturally informed practice (R 235).
- Identify performance indicators on the cultural competency of the agency’s workforce, and regularly review the effect of these recommendations on that competency (R 237).
There is more information about the numbers of Aboriginal children in care in last week’s post Statistics on Aboriginal children and young people in care and juvenile detention 2015-16 .
Watch out for the next posts in this series which set out the Government’s response to the Nyland report in the areas of education and collaboration.